Vaping’s considered less toxic than smoking, but it still leaves parrots exposed to toxins and chemicals that can make them sick. This begs the question: does vaping hurt birds, and is vaping around birds bad?
Parrots only have small air sacs, so vaping’s responsible for serious respiratory conditions, including lung disease. The chemicals in the vapor also cause skin infections, feather issues, and nicotine infections. Long-term exposure to e-cigarettes and other vaping devices could poison and kill your parrot.
Most e-liquids contain nicotine, but some products come without it. These liquids are slightly better for parrots, but they still have harmful chemicals that pose a health risk. Let’s look at the most common vaping effects on birds.
Is Vaping Bad For Parrots?
While vaping seems like a healthier alternative to smoking, it’s not without its dangers. Vapers place a flavored liquid containing nicotine into the chamber of a vaping device, such as an e-cigarette, where the battery heats it to produce a colorless vapor. There are two types of e-liquids available:
- With nicotine
- Without nicotine
E-liquids that contain 0% nicotine are considered safer to smoke around parrots, but they’re not devoid of toxins.
Because vaping toxicity is still a relatively new phenomenon, researchers are still looking into the effects. However, we do know that vape juices contain chemicals that are harmful to birds. The fumes can be inhaled and swallowed, affecting parrots even from a distance.
The vapor can even leave residue on your bird’s cage, food bowl, and toys, leaving dangerous chemicals behind for the parrot to ingest. E-liquids contain the following chemicals:
- Ultrafine particles that are inhaled deep into the lungs
- Flavorings, such as diacetyl
- Volatile organic compounds
- Heavy metals, including lead, nickel, and tin
If you’re prone to vaping around parrots or want to know how it affects them, these are the dangers to look out for:
Parrots have small air sacs that are sensitive to irritants, toxins, and pollutants. The vapor produced by e-cigarettes and other vaping devices lingers in the air long after you’ve used them, meaning birds can inhale it for several hours afterward.
Sadly, parrots have a unique respiratory system, which doesn’t benefit them when inhaling second-hand vaping smoke. Because their air sacs are spread throughout their inner chest, parrots pass every breath of air through them twice. Unfortunately, this means parrots inhale more toxins than humans, meaning the nicotine in vaping smoke affects them quickly and more negatively.
Many e-liquids contain diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease. Specifically, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) describes how occupational exposure has been associated with severe respiratory impairment.
Similarly, VCA Hospitals explains how respiratory disease is one of the most common problems seen in pet birds. Exposure to environmental toxins, including second-hand smoke, is a common cause.
The skin and feathers absorb nicotine, causing skin infections. Similarly, if your bird plucked its feathers and has bare patches as a result, it’s at risk of developing dermatitis.
Even vape smoke that doesn’t contain nicotine is a problem, as chemical exposure of any kind can cause painful sores. In addition, if your parrot digs at these wounds, they can become infected, making the problem worse. Not only that but bacteria and fungi and get into broken skin, resulting in deadly infections that are fatal in the most extreme circumstances.
According to the Department of Health for New York State, approximately 23.3% of adults smoke. Because of this, studies suggest that 98% of New York pigeons are addicted to nicotine, which researchers discovered through blood samples and stool tests. This means parrots can become addicted to nicotine, too. Symptoms of an addiction include:
- Weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Dingy appearance
- Bad smell
- Hoarse vocalizations
- Anti-social tendencies
Second-hand vape smoke’s responsible for nicotine addictions, which gets into their respiratory tract by the traveling vapor. Over time, parrots start to crave nicotine, displaying withdrawal symptoms. During this time, you’ll notice behavioral problems, and your parrot’s immune system may become compromised.
Choosing e-liquids that don’t contain nicotine will prevent addiction, but there are still harmful chemicals to worry about.
Parrots exposed to nicotine and other chemicals, whether via the vapor or dirty fingers from smokers, develop dull, greasy feathers that are permanently dirty. While the effects may be slower with vaping devices than traditional cigarettes, the nicotine will undoubtedly settle on the parrot’s plumage, affecting feather quality.
Another significant side effect of vaping is that when the parrot preens itself, it will do so excessively and pluck its feathers to get rid of the toxins, unwittingly ingesting them. This leads to digestive malfunction and signs of nervousness, effectively poisoning the bird.
As mentioned, there are several e-liquids available without nicotine, which will help prevent this problem.
While far less common than the other issues on our list, if birds get hold of hot vaping batteries and proceed to chew them, the alkaline will cause painful burns. This is more likely to happen if you let your bird out of its cage but leave your vaping device somewhere your bird can reach.
Parrots are curious creatures who enjoy exploring unfamiliar objects with their beaks, making e-cigarettes and vaping devices a serious threat to their safety.
Is Vaping Poisonous to Parrots?
While more studies are needed to understand the effects of vaping around parrots, cheaper e-liquids contain several harmful chemicals, such as:
- Antifreeze components
- Pharmaceutical drugs
Similarly, the National Academy of Sciences found that e-liquid flavors, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, contain caffeine, which is toxic to parrots. Caffeine toxicity is fatal in high doses and risks seizures, heart problems, and hyperactivity. That being said, parrots would need to be frequently exposed to the smoke to notice the effects.
Above all else, second-hand smoke is dangerous because it’s invisible and colorless, making it a silent but deadly killer. Symptoms of second-hand smoke inhalation include:
- Problems breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Feather plucking
- Loss of appetite
- Refusal to drink water
- Poor feather quality
- Visible sores
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that vapes and e-cigarettes may be poisonous to parrots over time. It’s also safe to assume that smaller birds are most at risk. Don’t take the risk – vape well away from your parrot and smoke outside wherever possible.
Does Vaping Kill Parakeets?
Vaping around your parakeet is just as dangerous as smoking around it. The same goes for vaping around budgies, which are the most common type of parakeet. As the smallest parrot species, they’re more at risk from the smoke and toxins produced by vaping devices than larger parrots. While they won’t die from the vapor immediately, long-term exposure may prove to be fatal.
Overall, it’s best not to use a vaping device or e-cigarette around your parrot. Second-hand smoke is damaging to its body and can cause long-term health problems.